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Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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New plan emerges for Idaho Fish and Game to acquire Black Lake Ranch east of Harrison

Marshall Chesrown's former Black Lake Ranch sits partially submerged on Monday, March 8, 2016. KATHY PLONKA (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Marshall Chesrown's former Black Lake Ranch sits partially submerged on Monday, March 8, 2016. KATHY PLONKA (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Idaho officials have a new plan for buying a 1,000-acre former horse ranch along the Coeur d’Alene River.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game plans to buy Black Lake Ranch for $2.6 million from a private landowner, Minnaloosa Land Co. The ranch east of Harrison will be used for recreation, wildlife habitat and wetlands restoration, state officials said.

Black Lake Ranch is known for its miles of white vinyl pasture fencing, visible to cyclists along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

To raise money for the purchase, Fish and Game would sell 1,400 acres of agency-owned timberland near St. Maries to the state Department of Lands. That deal, valued at $4.6 million, hasn’t been finalized. After the sale, the timberland would remain open to the public under Department of Lands management.

“It’s highly likely it will fall into place, but no one has actually signed anything,” Phil Cooper, a Fish and Game spokesman, said Monday evening.

The St. Maries parcel is popular with hunters. Public access concerns scuttled an earlier proposal to trade the timberland to Minnaloosa Land Co. in exchange for the ranch.

The Fish and Game Commission approved the most recent purchase plan last week.

The deal is “one of the most win/win situations that I’ve ever been involved with,” said Brad Corkill, the commission chairman.

One of the ranch’s former owners, Marshall Chesrown, raised quarterhorses on the property. Converting the ranch’s pastures back into wetlands will improve water quality in Black Lake, one of the chain lakes along the Coeur d’Alene River.

Surplus money from the sale of the 1,400 acres of timberland will remain in Fish and Game’s account for future land purchases or habitat restoration.

At Thursday’s meeting in Lewiston, the Fish and Game Commission also approved spending $2 million in federal funds toward the purchase of a conservation easement on the Clagstone Meadows Ranch property.

The conservation easement will prevent development on the largest block of private timberland in Bonner County. Stimson Lumber will continue to own the land and harvest trees on the 13,169-acre property. The conservation easement also covers 1,263 acres of Stimson land on the western shore of Lake Pend Oreille at Cape Horn.

The easement, valued at $13.1 million, will be purchased with a variety of federal and private funding sources.

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